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Tomato Magic

June 19, 2012

We had the honor of attending Binkley’s Heirloom Tomato dinner last week, which was a feast for the eyes and the palate.  This is now the fourth year Kevin Binkley has put on this dinner and once again he wowed us with his ability to take a tomato and create a masterpiece. Over six courses and countless amuse bouche Kevin highlighted not only the individual flavors of our many different heirloom tomatoes, but he demonstrated flavor combinations and cooking techniques that show why Binkley’s is the pinnacle of dining in the Valley.  The Binkley’s annual dinner to celebrate heirloom tomatoes has become an annual rite of summer that I anxiously await.  Words fail to describe the magic of each course, but take a look…

And I don’t know how to quite capture the dessert, except to say it was the dish that garnered the most rave reviews of the night.  Including a tomato in a dessert is a tricky endeavor, but oddly enough, one of my all time favorite desserts ever involved a tomato as well.  Back when Nobuo Fukuda had Sea Saw, he had a tomato dessert that involved lemon gelato, basil, a crack of pepper and a little crystallized honey that left us speechless.  I have tried describing that dessert before, only to receive strange looks in return.  These are things that on the surface shouldn’t go together, but in the hands of an artist, they harmonize beautifully.  I only had the pleasure of ordering Nobuo’s dessert twice, but its memory is seared into my brain.  It was light, refreshing, a little sweet, and a little surprising.  Kevin Binkley was able to pull off the same showmanship with a tomato dessert that rivals Nobuo’s.  His involved a tomato granite using Aunt Ruby’s German Green tomatoes with cherries, vanilla mascarpone, honey, white chocolate and the kicker, a candied lime zest that brought the whole dish together in a light, zesty, summery confection that was the resounding star of the evening.  After an evening of many wonderful treats, and much wine, it took something this special to make the room settle down and take notice.  There was barely a sound as each table discovered this dessert, and there certainly was not a bowl returned to the kitchen with a bite of it left.  Kevin is not one to repeat himself, but I am going to be hoping all year to see this dish again next time.  If only the wait for heirloom tomatoes wasn’t so long…

Another rite of summer comes up tomorrow, as it is our last market of the season.   We wish all of our customers a wonderful summer and look forward to seeing everyone again in the fall!  We hope to see you tomorrow at Town & Country!

Binkley’s Restaurant
6920 East Cave Creek Road
Cave Creek, AZ  85331-8604

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